(Reuters) The European Parliament backed a devout Catholic as EU health commissioner on Wednesday, brushing off critics who fear the Maltese politician could row back on EU policies on stem cell research, abortion and gay rights.

Greens, Liberals and Socialists in the European Parliament had said they would vote against Tonio Borg, a former foreign and justice minister in Malta, saying his beliefs could influence EU policy.

As commissioner, Borg’s remit would include access to healthcare and contraception and the control of sexually transmitted diseases.

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